A ‘fully solar-powered’ car could hit roads by 2019

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

Dutch startup, Lightyear has won a Climate Change Innovator Award at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas for developing the Lightyear One, an electric car it claims is fully solar-powered and has a range of 400-800km.

For years, the concept of solar-powered cars has loomed over the electric car industry as a hopeful, possible future. But many have argued that this concept is not only impractical, it is basically impossible.

For instance, a solar roof that was designed to power the Toyota Prius was found to only be useful in combination with a traditional battery charging system and it only added an additional 4 miles to the range.

Until now fully solar-powered cars were not considered a realistic prospect, Solar Assisted Electric Vehicles (SAEVs) were considered the best possible option for solar-powered cars, adding up to hundreds of miles to a car’s range.

However, the first 10 Lightyear Ones are due to be released in 2019, with four already bought by people in Holland. The Dutch startup promises a car that is not only fully powered by the sun, but also overcomes some of the conventional challenges associated with the technology, such as intermittency and low performance.

There are a lot of questions that remain as the Lightyear One goes into development, such as how efficiently it can charge through cloud cover. Or, even if the car is actually an SAEV, because it still includes a charger for use at home or at EV charging points. At the very least, it will be interesting to see how the solar elements of this vehicle performs and changes the solar aspect of the EV industry.

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